The Whisper of the Muse / Portrait of G.F. Watts

Object Details

Title:

The Whisper of the Muse / Portrait of G.F. Watts

Artist/Maker(s):

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, born India, 1815 - 1879)

Culture:

British

Place(s):

Freshwater, Isle of Wight, England (Place created)

Date:

April 1865

Medium:

Albumen silver print

Dimensions:

26 x 21.4 cm (10 1/4 x 8 7/16 in.)

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George Frederick Watts was a renowned portrait painter as well as a friend and mentor to the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Cameron photographed Watts frequently and in different guises. Here she cast him in the role of musician with his muse or guiding spirit looking intently over his left shoulder, as though she is "whispering" some artistic encouragement in his ear. He, in turn, looks down upon the figure of the child on his right, who appears to be entranced by his violin playing.

The violin is the visual focus of the composition and establishes a connection between the visual and performing arts. The concept of "muse" derives from Greek mythology and indicates the influence of classical sources in Cameron's work. On the mount board under this image, her inscription, "a Triumph!," demonstrates the degree to which she felt this photograph captured the relationship of artist and muse.

Exhibitions
Whisper of the Muse at Loyola Marymount University (September 12 to October 25, 1986)
  • Laband Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, (Los Angeles), September 12 to October 25, 1986
Portrait Photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron (November 25, 1987 to February 14, 1988)
  • National Portrait Gallery (Washington D.C.), November 25, 1987 to February 14, 1988
The Art of Photography: 1839 - 1989 (February 11 to December 23, 1989)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, February 11 to April 30, 1989
  • National Gallery of Australia, (Canberra), June 1 to August 1, 1989
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), September 23 to December 23, 1989
Julia Margaret Cameron: The Creative Process (October 15, 1996 to May 3, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), October 15, 1996 to January 5, 1997
  • Art Gallery of Ontario, (Toronto), February 4 to May 3, 1998
Julia Margaret Cameron: Nineteenth Century Photographic Genius (February 6 to August 30, 2003)
  • National Portrait Gallery (London), February 6 to May 18, 2003
  • National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, (Bradford), June 5 to August 30, 2003
Julia Margaret Cameron, Photographer (November 21, 2003 to January 11, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 21, 2003 to January 11, 2004
A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography (February 4 to June 8, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 4 to June 8, 2014
Bibliography